A statement made last week by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt was misinterpreted and created an online frenzy for those wishing for the end of meaningful use. Now, the initial knee-jerk reaction is being replaced by the reality that meaningful use is evolving, not dissolving, and VHQC Physician Services is ready to guide you through these upcoming adjustments.

A blog post this week by Slavitt and Dr. Karen DeSalvo, the Acting Assistant Secretary for Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, helped clarify the statement made by Slavitt last week. They emphasized that CMS is working on an “important transition for the Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program.”

This transition is part of CMS’ ultimate goal to link Medicare payments with better results for patients, providing better care, spending healthcare money more wisely and keeping people healthy. Slavitt and DeSalvo said this will be achieved through the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), which considers quality, cost, and clinical practice improvement activities to calculate Medicare physician payments, according to the blog post.

“While MACRA also continues to require that physicians be measured on their meaningful use of certified EHR technology for purposes of determining their Medicare payments, it provides a significant opportunity to transition the Medicare EHR Incentive Program for physicians towards the reality of where we want to go next,” they said. While more specifics about proposed regulations will be announced in the spring, their blog post states that changes will be guided by the following principles:

  1. Rewarding providers for the outcomes technology helps them achieve with their patients.
  2. Allowing providers the flexibility to customize health IT to their individual practice needs. Technology must be user-centered and support
  3. Leveling the technology playing field to promote innovation, including for start-ups and new entrants, by unlocking electronic health information through open APIs – technology tools that underpin many consumer applications. This way, new apps, analytic tools and plug-ins can be easily connected to so that data can be securely accessed and directed where and when it is needed in order to support patient care.
  4. Prioritizing interoperability by implementing federally recognized, national interoperability standards and focusing on real-world uses of technology, like ensuring continuity of care during referrals or finding ways for patients to engage in their own care. (CMS) will not tolerate business models that prevent or inhibit the data from flowing around the needs of the patient.

Slavitt and DeSalvo also emphasized that “while MACRA provides an opportunity to adjust payment incentives associated with EHR incentives in concert with the principles (they have) outlined here, it does not eliminate it, nor will it instantly eliminate all the tensions of the current system.” Improvements will be made through feedback of those who work directly with the system.

VHQC Physician Services is ready to help you stay prepared for these changes. For more information, contact us at healthit@vhqc.org or at 800-207-7928.

Read the full blog post posted on the CMS website.

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